SEISMIC SHIFTS

I lived in the long shadows
of the Wasatch Mountains
the first 22 years of my life.
The fault lines always
bubbled below the surface
bounced somewhere beneath,
like a moth trapped under a glass.
On a spring day in middle school,
rumor ran rampant —
a major earthquake would happen
the next afternoon.
Predicted not by scientists,
but by conspiracy theorists.
Those who typically foresee
natural disasters and the end of the world.
“The Big One” never arrived.

When I moved to Nevada,
the first fissure felt
was my mistake-of-a-marriage —
dissolved and crumbled,
thin layers of heart’s crust
pulled away, delicate as snake skin.
I was several months pregnant
and awoke during the gray hours.
The pictures on my wall rattled,
ever so slightly,
and I peered out the window
to the eerily empty street
where only lights on the lampposts
indicated any signs of life.
My bed swayed
just enough to rock me back to sleep.

The next morning,
I figured it may have been a dream,
because no one in my family felt it.
But the news confirmed I was correct.
A fault in the California desert,
hundreds of miles away,
cracked and shifted
during the night.
No one was injured.
No one was deceased.
Broken jars of spaghetti sauce,
fallen from store shelves,
the only casualties.

And my baby girl
leapt in my womb,
elbowing her way to comfort,
lacking amniotic fluid,
fighting for her life.

THE DEEPEST PURPLE

Red is motivated. Red is proactive. Red is power. Red is a nasty argument that you want to win. Red can’t hide its crimson. Blue is perfectionism. Blue is thoughtful. Blue cries during commercials and movies. Blue is all the emotions.

I’ve always had a somewhat split personality. I frequently veer between type-A and “I don’t give a shit”. Many years ago, my therapist suggested a book called “The Color Code”. The book contains various quizzes, drawn up on a points system, to determine what color represents you. Each of the four colors: red, white, yellow, and blue correspond with various emotions and personality traits. Upon taking the quizzes, it determined I was equal parts red and blue. Those two colors are so different from one another in the code that I thought, “That can’t be correct.” I took the various quizzes again and received the same results. While this book helped me make more sense of myself, being “purple” is still sometimes a terribly confusing experience. I’ve often described myself as being equally obsessive about things I love (blue) and things I hate (red). If I like you, I love you and would do virtually anything for you. If you cross me, I am unlikely to give you a second chance and will probably loathe you with every fiber of my being into the eternities.

I have this war inside my heart and head; and it’s deeply ingrained. When I look at my dad, I see all that is inherently red and all that is inherently blue. I know he gave these colors to me. This purple rose that is such a deep hue, it’s nearly black.

I’m trying to overcome the parts of each color that have weighed me down: The impatience, the annoyance, the unforgiving nature, the salty sting that creeps into the corners of my eyes when I am frustrated. But sometimes, the hardest thing to do is deny your genetics. Deny what is your material. Regardless, I have been trying more vigilantly the last few years to find an in-between. The attempt has, at times, been futile and I have had to start over more than once. My husband is the picture of calm and collected, even in high-pressure, stressful situations. He also has unparalleled levels of patience, even in the most frustrating scenarios. I am trying to emulate him in these regards, because those are character traits I admire greatly (white) and areas in which I have been lacking.

I don’t think I am as deeply red or blue as I used to be — but the changes have continually required me to re-think, re-draw, re-write. It’s been draft, after draft, after draft. But that’s the way it is when you are creating a thick biographical book, a masterpiece painting, or an album that is destined to be a classic. Toil, sweat, dark places, light places, and everything in between.

On my best days though, the scale finds a balance and I realize that purple, especially the deepest shade, is the most stunning color in the spectrum.

SOMETIMES, OKAY, ALWAYS

Sometimes
you just can’t.
When the wound is too deep.
When the love is too strong.
When the bend becomes a break.

Then, other times,
you devour the whole beast.
Eat all flesh.
Tear apart sinew.
Suck marrow.
Save fat for later.

I drew a blank for six months,
while all the flags were drooping emblems
constantly at half-staff,
wilting among thoughts and prayers.
Even after warm bodies gone cold.
Headstones and ashes.

Always
you return and remember.
The time your fingers tickled the pages.
The time we laughed until we bled.
The time we sighed, chests heavy.
The time the world turned around again

and the thrum of life moved on.

NEVER AGAIN

The “whys” and the “hows”
were almost immediate.
Followed shortly thereafter,
were the smattering of “thoughts & prayers”
accompanied by hashtags
and politicians’ faux broken hearts.

This one was “the worst”,
but haven’t they all been?
Haven’t they all been
the worst for someone?
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend?

The makeshift memorial
stretches across the astroturf
winding like a trail of tears,
a road of sorrows.
Messages, coins, candles, roses;
gestures from those who knew them personally
and those who know them now,
because we let this happen again.

I bend slightly
to read each name
adhered to each white cross.
They are from various locations:
Southern California,
West Virginia,
Canada,
Idaho,
Las Vegas.
I reassure them silently that they won’t be forgotten,
but when I look at the paper,
less than a week later,
it seems some are already trying not to remember.

Is it too soon to talk about this?
Is it ever too soon to talk about
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend
and why they should still be living and breathing?
Is it too soon to talk about
this broken society
that has created an admiration for senseless violence
and has prioritized gun ownership over a love of human beings?

When should we talk about
Austin (’66),
Columbine (’99),
Virginia Tech (’07),
Aurora (’12),
Newtown (’12),
Charleston (’15),
Orlando (’16),
Las Vegas (’17)?
Should we wait until more than 60 innocents die at once?

We shouldn’t be talking,
We should be shouting!
And before the questions of “why” or “how” are raised,
we should be emphasizing, “Never, never again,”
and taking immediate action.
Vegas Memorial2.JPG

Photos taken: 10/6/2017

MORE THAN THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

I have lived in the Las Vegas area for the last 18 years. I’ve lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else in my lifetime. This morning, I woke to a flood of text messages and emails from friends asking if me and my loved ones were safe and accounted for. Unfortunately, Las Vegas is not alone in its grief. We were preceded by the University of Texas, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the movie theater in Aurora, CO, Newtown, San Bernardino, Washington, D.C., PULSE Nightclub — the list goes on and on.

Thoughts and prayers are nice, but they are clearly not enough during this time. We need action from our law makers. There is currently a bill that will soon be up for vote to make it so that silencers can be more easily obtained. Why? Why do we continue to protect gun owners over the rest of the citizens of this nation? I cannot imagine how many more lives would have been lost last night if the psychotic gunman would have used a silencer. There is still a loophole in background checks for guns. People can still purchase guns easily at gun shows. If people want to own guns, we should be vetting them much more thoroughly than we do someone who is applying for a driver’s license.  In addition, we need better mental health care in this country. Everyone should be able to easily see a therapist, a psychiatrist, a grief counselor, get treatment for PTSD, and the like. The system is broken. It needs fixing. If now is not the time to make this political, then when is? I don’t think anyone’s second amendment rights should be more important than the rights of everyone in this country to feel safe when they are at school, at a concert, or going to the movie theater.

I fully understand that guns are like drugs. If people want them, they will find a way to get them, but it absolutely couldn’t hurt to put more laws and better laws in place. Let’s follow the example of Australia where there are now strict gun control laws. They haven’t had anything of the caliber like what we are continuing to see in the United States since 1996.

I am irate that this keeps happening. I am sad that it happened in my community. I am beyond enraged that it keeps happening over and over again. We send up thoughts and prayers, and then it happens again and we repeat the cycle. This should NOT be our new normal. We need more than thoughts and prayers. We need actions! We need unity in that action. We need peace of mind. We need more kindness and understanding. We needed it decades ago, and we need it now more than ever. If you are able to help victims of this tragedy, I recommend donating to this gofundme page that was created by the sheriff and Steve Sisolak, who is currently the Clark County Commission Chairman. I have many additional thoughts, but there is a lot that is still processing at the moment. My main thought is more of a hope. A hope that we can see an end to this type of senseless violence and soon; and also that lawmakers will start putting their constituents needs above their own needs and discontinue receiving donations from organizations like the NRA.

THOUGHTS OF AN INSOMNIAC

Did I lock the deadbolt? What’s my favorite kind of cheese? Whatever happened to that cast member from “The Real World Hawaii”? How many books have I read this year? That moonrise in Alaska was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. What does it take to become a Canadian citizen? Small talk has completely died now that everyone has smartphones. I hope my daughter gets financial aid, a couple scholarships, and doesn’t let losers take advantage of her once she’s in college. My nephew is the most adorable toddler on the planet. Mmmmm…a bagel with cream cheese sounds delicious right now. No wait! A chocolate Croissant from Starbucks. Why is anyone thinking we can live on Mars? That’s the dumbest idea ever. Scott Pruitt pisses me off. Betsy DeVos too. I need to make a donation to The Committee to Protect Journalists. How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Should I get up and shower now? What book do I want to read next? Why do so many artists and actors OD or commit suicide? The next time I organize the closet, I have to get rid of that quilt. It’s bulky and takes up tons of space. “Garden State” is still one of my favorite movies. It would be amazing to hang out with Mike D and Ad-Rock. Does David Sedaris have a reading coming up soon? I am stoked for the Kings of Leon concert. Why is summertime such a waste land for TV viewing? How old would John Lennon be if he were still alive? I wonder if he would have reunited with Paul McCartney to sing duets. What’s on my to-do list for today? I am going to need a nap. Can’t sleep. Clowns will eat me. Can’t sleep.  Clowns will eat me. Mmmmm…donuts.

BEGGING FOR ANSWERS

I came of age in the era
of argyle socks
and plaid shirts
stolen from your father’s closet.

We stopped before school
to fill Super Big Gulp cups
with frothy Orange Bang!
which we kept in our lockers all day.

We didn’t realize
that MTV would soon cease
to be music television
and would peddle us “Jersey Shore”.

There was no comprehension
of intrawebs and internets,
and the smart phones
our children gobble up like Candy Crush.

I think about the pivotal moment
when he filled three pages of my yearbook
with a break-up message
that I didn’t fully comprehend until age 38.

I sometimes remember
the way he smelled like Play-Doh
and combed his hands
through my wet hair.

Then I wander to the artist
with the wire-framed glasses
who tasted like Budweiser
and smelled like paint thinner.

They tell us not to look back,
but they also say if you don’t examine the past
you’re doomed to repeat it.
So which is it, huh?